Big Issue sales cash helping Preston's NHS bed blocking crisis

Big Issue sellers are helping to ease the bed-blocking crisis in Lancashire's hospitals.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 22nd January 2018, 7:57 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 9:10 pm
Selling the Big Issue
Selling the Big Issue

Cash raised by the street magazine has been invested in a new care home in Preston which is now offering temporary rehabilitation beds for elderly people who are needlessly stuck in hospital wards.

Springfield Manor Gardens in Fulwood - formerly the Little Sisters of the Poor Care Home - has received a £150,000 injection from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue Group.

The money has helped launch the home, allowing it to provide places for 10 patients to be moved out of Preston and Chorley hospitals in the last month, freeing up urgent care beds for those in greater need.

And the investment highlights how private care homes are now stepping in to shore up the ailing NHS as it battles to cope with demand for its services and a desperate shortage of available beds due to winter pressures.

Spiral Health, a Lancashire-based community interest company which claims to save the NHS more than £17m a year, took over the running of Springfield Manor Gardens last month.

The home, which had been run by the Little Sisters in Fulwood since 1881, currently has places for 43 elderly people and the potential to up that to 60 in the future.

Spiral has been running similar units elsewhere in Lancashire since 2012, taking pressure of hospitals who are struggling with a beds crisis.

The Big Issue investment allowed the company to secure a long-term lease on the 138-year-old home which, thanks to more cash from the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), has now been able to offer the 10 rehab beds. “We are very pleased to be working with Big Issue Invest and the health and social care sector in order to make a real difference in supporting older people in the North West,” said Spiral CEO Tracey Bush. We operate in one of the most deprived areas in England - 16 per cent of the neighbourhoods in Preston are in the 10 per cent most deprived in the country.

“Over half of our residents are living with dementia. Without funding from Big Issue Invest we wouldn’t be able to provide vital services and support to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Latest figures show hundreds of patients a week are stuck in the county’s hospitals, fit enough to be discharged, but unable to go home because social care services outside are at breaking point.

Without intermediate beds to act as a stop gap while the care system is able to look after them, they have to stay put in wards, blocking the intake of new patients waiting to be admitted.

Last year shock figures obtained by the Post revealed that at any one time between 60 and 80 mainly elderly people who no longer needed full-time medical treatment were unable to be discharged from Preston and Chorley hospitals due to a lack of care services in the community.

Their continued presence was having a serious knock-on effect on new admissions, A&E waiting times, elective operations and ambulance handovers.

The investment from The Big Issue is part of a programme of “financing sustainable social enterprises and charities that are making a positive difference for people and communities in the UK.”

Maayan Keren-Zur, investment manager at Big Issue Invest said: “A lot of great organisations struggle to access small and medium-sized loans, so we wanted to provide support for those incredible social enterprises and charities.

“We are so pleased that we have been able to enable Spiral Health to enter into a lease and operate a new care home, which offered the vital space needed to accommodate the extra 10 beds to those who needed them the most.”

Denis Gizzi, deputy chair of the central Lancashire A&E delivery board, said: “We have commissioned 10 beds at the Spiral-run Springfield Manor Gardens Care Home using funds we’re allocated to better integrate health and social care services.

“This is an interim arrangement to help with the winter pressures that we are currently experiencing in our hospitals. The beds at the home are for people who no longer need the more specialised care provided by hospitals, but need further support or assessments before they can go home. And we are seeing that this arrangement is helping to free up some beds at Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals for those who are in need of acute care.”

Springfield Manor Gardens

The imposing Victorian building in Garstang Road, Fulwood was erected in 1880 and taken over by nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor the following year.

They ran it as a care home until 2016 when the Sisters reluctantly agreed to sell it because there were lo longer enough nuns to staff it.

HBS Healthcare bought the property - called the Jeanne Hugan Residence - last month and announced it would continue as a care home run by Spiral Health.

Set in four acres of grounds, the home has 39 bedrooms, a chapel, a doctor’s surgery, tea room, common rooms, a conservatory and 15 staff bedrooms.

A spokesman for Spiral Health said: “We are looking forward to becoming an integral part of the Preston community as the Little sisters have been.

“We are eager to continue the great care and service that they have provided for 120 years.”

In the past few days it has been revealed HBS Healthcare is to build a new “super surgery” on land at the rear of the care home to house five GP practices from Fulwood.

The new health centre is expected to be ready in 2020, looking after 25,000 patients.

Spiral Health

The community interest company took over the running of the former Little Sisters of the Poor Care Home in Garstang Road, Fulwood in December.

Spiral also operates a 24-bed unit within the Royal Preston Hospital providing patients with an opportunity for recovery, rehabilitation, care and support.

It caters for those who, after an illness at home or in hospital, need continuing intensive support to get back on their feet.

The company is based in Blackpool and was formed in 2012 by a group of nurses in the resort. In 2014 it won the title of Lancashire’s Social Enterprise of the Year.

Figures show it saves more than 6,000 bed nights in hospitals during periods of winter pressure.

Annually it supports more than 1,000 vulnerable adults, providing 17,628 rehabilitation bed nights which saves the NHS almost £8m. It is estimated it provides a similar saving in the reduction of A&E attendance, reduces social care costs by almost £3m and saves a further £1.5m in the delay or reduction of older people needing residential care.

The Big Issue

Launched in September 1991, the award-winning street magazine is sold by vendors who are homeless, vulnerably housed or marginalised in some way.

It was inspired by Street News, a product which was sold by homeless people in New York.

Founders were John Bird, now Lord Bird, and Gordon Roddick. Lord Bird is still editor-in-chief, while Roddick, also co-founder of The Body Shop, is a director of the Big Issue Foundation.

The magazine’s aim was to fight homelessness by creating opportunity. It now sells on four continents and has five localised editions in the UK where its circulation is more than 80,000 every week, with a readership of almost 380,000 people.

The company’s ethos is “a hand up, not a hand out,” recognising that by earning an income the vendors, who buy their copies and sell them for a profit, are taking a key step in their journey towards stability and a better life.

The Big Issue Group’s mission is to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity through self-help, social trading and business solutions.

As well as The Big Issue magazine, they have a social investment arm, Big Issue Invest and an online shop selling products with a ‘social echo.’ The charitable arm is the Big Issue Foundation, visit


More than 26,000 bed days were lost because of the delayed discharge of patients at Preston and Chorley hospitals in the year up to September, according to the latest NHS figures.

Hundreds of patients a week are stuck in wards when they no longer need to be there because care services in the community are unable to take them.

And the situation is getting worse, say health professionals, as cuts in Government funding for social care have left the service is crisis.

The figure of 26,350 lost days was more than 10,000 up on the previous 12 months. And almost half of the bed blockages were because patients were waiting for care arrangements to be made.

Days lost waiting for nursing or residential home placements or a care package in the patient’s home more than doubled from 6,075 to 12,517.

Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “It’s important that people are discharged promptly from hospital when they no longer need specialist care, as delays affect the ability to admit patients for urgent treatment or planned operations.”

Nationally it has been claimed that bed-blocking on NHS wards is at its worst level ever and could be causing up to 8,000 deaths a year.

The toll is being blamed on delayed discharges leading to cancelled operations which might not be rescheduled for weeks.